Here’s my podcast episode of this article if you’re the type of person who prefers to listen 🙂
Before The KonMari Method
I remembered the pure joy I felt every time I bought a new book.
The boundless potential and promise of knowledge, of adventure, of a better me.
In high school and college, I collected thousands of books.
Buying them was so easy because they were always on sale at Costco, Barnes and Nobles, and Amazon.
But sadly, while buying them was easy, reading them was not.
Between the textbooks of high school and college, I didn’t find much time to read for fun.
I never stopped buying books though.
They kept piling up on my bookshelves, unopened.
The Japanese call this “Tsundoku,” meaning to buy books and let them pile up without ever reading them.
Then, one day, while feeding my biblio-addiction at the local Barnes and Nobles, I happened upon “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo and my life has never been the same.
Why Did I Discard 1500 Books?
I think what drove me to her book was that it talked about creating a joyful life.
And it might be because after college, I wasn’t feeling all that joyful with my life.
The prospects of job hunting, the withdrawal of not having to study for tests, essays, exams, and not being surrounded by a lot of friends in the same space.
By the time I was able to fully finish reading Marie Kondo’s book and put it into action, it was after college.
By then, my bookshelves were overflowing with so many books that I was stacking them on top of each other.
Marie Kondo’s book couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.
Like she suggested, I took all my books off the shelves and put them on the floor.
I then picked up every single one of them and asked “Does this book bring me joy?” the moment I touched it.
If not, I would say “Thank you” and put it in the discard pile.
By the time it was all said and done, I had spent the whole day and kept about 10 books.
The rest, I put in cardboard boxes and plastic tubs and brought them all to the local library to donate.
Luckily, the library’s donation area was outside, away from the workers, so I wouldn’t get judged for bringing them 1500 books.
I quickly dropped off everything, got in my car, and sped out the parking lot before they could see the huge pile of boxes.
Sorry to whoever came at the end of the day to close the donation shed.
How Has My life Changed Since Discarding 1500 books?
“Alright Jack, just get to the point already!” you scream.
Here are the 3 ways my life has gotten better since parting with 1500 books.
1) I’m Less Anxious
I’m now less anxious when I enter my room.
Instead of having 1500 books with their titles all screaming at me, now when I enter the room I am greeted by 10 close friends who bring me joy.
Think about it: the marketing department of publishing companies have to design titles on book spines that will grab your attention when you’re in the bookstore.
They have to make their book stand out amongst a sea of other books.
I had 1500 books all screaming at me, vying for my attention.
And, being an over-achiever, I was always thinking in the back of my mind, “Which book do I read next?”
The attention seeking behavior of the books, coupled with the anxiety of having too many choices, led to a not so joyful room.
By discarding them all, I’m now less anxious when I enter my room.
Oh, one thing to add to those are are hyperventilating at this point: I have now started creating “to read” lists on Amazon.
It’s an amazing feature in the Amazon app.
Now any time I have a book I want to read, I just add it to the “to read” list and only buy the book when I am done reading my current book.
So I only ever buy and read one book at a time now.
And when I’m done with my book, I ask if it brought me sheer joy, if the answer is “yes,” I keep on my shelf.
If “no,” I ask if any of my friends want the book.
If no one takes it, I donate it.
It’s made my life so much more enjoyable.
2) My Room Is More Peaceful (And Clean)
Marie Kondo said that “by eliminating excess visual information that doesn’t inspire joy, you can make your space much more peaceful and comfortable.”
And I find that to be true.
My bed wasn’t bringing me joy so I threw it out and slept on a yoga mat.
You can read that article here: Why I Sleep On A Yoga Mat – Minimalism Life
Ever since I got rid of my books, along with many other things, now when friends and family come into my room, they remark, “Wow your room is so clean!”
Or, “Your room is so peaceful!”
It took a lot of sweat, anguish, and letting go of a lot of stuff that didn’t bring me joy to get to that level of calm and peace.
It’s still a work in progress, and it does require tidying up every now and then.
With less stuff, cleaning my room now takes about 10 minutes to vacuum and wipe the floor.
It used to take over 30 minutes, mostly from all the dust that collects over many surfaces, and moving things around.
But overall, the peacefulness and calmness of mind has spilled over into my everyday life as well.
I get angry less.
I sleep better.
I’m able to focus more on my goals such as writing, blogging, reading, and exercise.
Discarding all my books has made me a calmer and more productive person.
3) Increased Self Control (Saves Money)
By discarding all my books, I found that it’s actually helped me control my craving for more books.
This has in turn helped me save so much money.
Apparently it happens to others too.
Marie Kondo said, “After tidying, many clients tell me that their worldly desires have decreased. Whereas in the past no matter how many clothes they had, they were never satisfied and always wanted something new to wear. Once they selected and kept only those things they really loved, they felt that they had everything they needed.”
Whereas before I would buy, buy, buy, without a care in the world, now I ask myself:
-Is there space on the shelf?
-Do I really need this book right now?
-Will it bring me joy?
The last question sometimes I don’t have the answer to until after I read the book.
But I think it’s a helpful criteria to ask beforehand, just in case I’m merely falling for a publishing company’s marketing ploy when I don’t really want nor need the book.
The KonMari Method has helped me curb wanton spending of money on books I don’t need at that moment and allowed me to come up with better ways to satisfy that feeling.
Such as adding them to my “books to buy” list on Amazon so I don’t forget.
Just the act of adding them to the list satisfies my inner fear that I might forget them.
Thus I don’t need to buy at that exact moment like I used to at Costco, Barnes and Nobles, or Amazon.
The KonMari Method helped my discard over 1500 books and changed my life for the better.
It’s helped me feel less anxious everyday, helped me create a more peaceful and cleaner living space, and helped me develop more self control and save money.
I think it will change your life for the better too if you give it a shot.
Let me know in the comments below if you end up reading “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo, or if you’ve already read it but were on the fence about it.
Good luck on your journey!
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